We all have our guilty pleasures when it comes to music. No matter what you normally like, there’s always something you listen to that you’d never admit to your friends because it’s so out of character. Maybe you’re a hip hop aficionado that likes a bit of country. Maybe you’re a huge boy-band nerd, but you’ve got a soft spot for Iron Maiden as well. My guilty pleasure is Carly Rae Jepsen, although the guilt is slim to none: she is a queen and I will not stand for people who disagree.
The idea of guilty pleasures is fairly outmoded in my opinion. After all, who cares what you like other than you? And if you like it, then surely that’s part of your personality, not something that goes against it. Either way, the notion is rooted pretty deeply in genre. Just look at my examples above; the typical pattern is that you’ll enjoy a band or artist that has absolutely nothing to do with the music you have on your t-shirts and jacket patches. But some music is just good enough to transcend the boundaries we establish for ourselves. Here’s a classic example: no matter what’s coming through your headphones when you’re on the bus to class, if “Bohemian Rhapsody” comes on at a party, you’re going to sing your heart out and you know it.
Good music is good music and no matter what genre you think you’re into, there’s always something happening outside of it that might just change your life. In effort to help you find such artists, I present to you No Words Left, a new LP from the sensational Lucy Rose. This album was recommended to me by a friend, but I don’t think they realized quite how deeply I would fall in love with this album. I have no choice but to pass that recommendation on to you: it doesn’t matter what music you think you like, because No Words Left is simply beyond genre. You may not know what you’re getting yourself into, but you’ll find it hard to part ways with this album once the final notes have resonated through you.
That’s not to say No Words Left is without a distinct style. To the contrary, every song is steeped in Rose’s inimitable personality. All I mean is that it doesn’t indulge in tropes, instead forging its own voice that both does away with generic convention and amalgamates numerous styles into something that would pique the interests of a wide range of audiences. Where No Words Left feels familiar, though, it does so because Rose has found the words to describe what you’re feeling. It’s not a particularly flashy album and, in relative terms, it’s even rather quiet. But it’s incredibly deliberate. Not a single breath or note is wasted and everything is exactly where it should be to have the most effect on the listener. Some of these elements are plaintive; several tracks rely on a simple acoustic guitar pattern and some strings. Others have a wider sonic vocabulary, with jazz-inspired vocal improvisation over piano and guitars that seem to be exploring their parts as opposed to reciting them. Other oddities, including the occasional crescendo, dustings of experimental guitar sounds and even a sultry saxophone solo ensure that you will never become bored of what you’re hearing. When it all comes together, Rose’s incredible sense of harmony and arrangement creates a sound no one else is creating. It’s a little hollow, a little ambiguous and incredibly easy to lose yourself in.
That’s to say nothing of Rose’s incredible lyrical depth. While not overly complex in themselves, they tackle complicated emotional subjects, creating a vulnerability matched with an accessibility that such subject matter doesn’t usually have very often. Lyrically, my favourite song on the album is “Save Me From Your Kindness.” The title alone is intriguing, but the lyrics themselves paint a stark, vivid picture of emotional reliance and control. All of this is set against the almost ghostly instrumentation and performed by Rose’s beautiful voice, powerful but controlled and sensitive to the vulnerable nature of the song.
The past few years have seen an explosion of young women baring their hearts on their sleeves and writing albums about it. While each of those voices is unique, the way they’re marketed makes it seem as though they all blend into one, as though they’re all interchangeable with one another (which is absolutely not the case). No Words Left is proof, if any was needed, of two things. One, that musical trends have more to do with marketing than the actual music; Lucy Rose might seem like she belongs to some kind or group or niche, but she couldn’t be more unique. Secondly, that your music library would benefit from exploring outside of your comfort zone every once in a while. Rose’s music is so unique that I find it hard to imagine the type of person that would have already been following her, but I find it even harder to imagine anyone listening to this album and not falling in love.